SENATOR Sonny Angara on Saturday stressed that testing for COVID-19 should be ramped up already in order to avoid another outbreak of the disease in the country, as Metro Manila and other highly urbanized cities are gearing for further easing of restrictions on movement and the return to work for even more people.
Until such time that more people are tested for COVID-19, Angara said there will always be a risk of an outbreak, which the country can no longer afford to happen.
“In the T3 program, testing is the first step, followed by tracing and treating. All three components are equally important but unless we can perform more tests, we can never be sure of our safety when we go out of our homes and get back to work,” Angara said.
Angara earlier filed Senate Bill 1535 or the proposed Crushing COVID Act, a counterpart measure to the bill filed by Iloilo Rep. Janette Garin, which seeks to implement mass testing, particularly on the vulnerable sectors of society.
Under the bill, the conduct of PCR testing will prioritize persons returning to work with co-morbidities such as diabetes, hypertension, pulmonary diseases, cancer, renal failure, pregnancy, old age, obesity and the immunocompromised.
“They are the people who are most vulnerable to contracting severe COVID-19 and at higher risk of death so they should definitely be tested right away,” Angara said.
Priority will also be given to health care workers, sales personnel in public markets, groceries and supermarkets, food handlers, factory workers, construction workers, security guards and drivers, banks and transfer fund facilities personnel, laundry shop workers, house helpers, caregivers, pregnant women, embalmers, wellness and salon workers, uniformed personnel, media personnel, barangay health workers, and family members whose households have dwellers who went abroad last December 2019 until the present time.
These are the people who are most exposed to persons who could be carrying the virus and could end up spreading the virus to even more people.
All persons entering the Philippines, including foreign nationals will also have to undergo testing.
“We expect PhilHealth to be able to cover most if not the entire cost of the tests. For the foreign nationals, they will have to shoulder the costs themselves,” Angara said.